Zach Frost, welcome to the interview space. How are you doing this morning?
I’m doing great. How are you?
I’m good. You have an iced coffee there.
I do. I should have offered you one, sorry. I was in the drive thru and should’ve chatted you.
No, no. You’re simply inspiring me to go and get my own iced coffee around lunch. So, you’ve been promoted to Director of Integrated Media here at Flynn. Very exciting.
Yes, thank you. It’s been a good week.
What would you consider to be the most formative moments of your early career?
I lived in Nashville for several years, working on the media team at The Buntin Group (now known as BUNTIN). At first, I was assigned to a couple national clients, SERVPRO and Chinet. Two or three years in, we won Perkins Restaurant & Bakery as well as Tropical Smoothie Café, so I became part of a restaurant team. We delivered dozens of hyperlocal media plans to franchise systems that laddered up to a larger national strategy. A lot of what we did was rooted in digital media, but I also got exposure to TV, Radio, OOH, and other media channels that really helped round out my skillset.
Sounds like you were thrown in the deep end. But you probably ate very well.
I stayed there for close to six years and worked my way up to Channel Engagement Manager, but ultimately decided to take a job at RPA, out of L.A., where I worked on the Hardee’s account.
The restaurant industry is very fun. You get experience with local and national planning and buying. I also came up in a time when online ordering was becoming very popular, so we had to strategize for e-comm as well. The restaurant business can also be emotional. An early mentor put it into perspective for me. I’d been working on the Perkins business for a couple years, and she said especially for single-store operators, this is their livelihood. When you put that into perspective, it changes how you think.
So, tell me about making the shift from the restaurant world to brands in healthcare and insurance.
Yeah, definitely. The first piece of business I worked on when I got to Flynn in late 2021 was Quest Diagnostics, specifically their consumer testing portfolio.
What was it like to work on a huge healthcare business like Quest at that time?
I think wild would be a fitting word. With COVID at its peak, we were constantly analyzing trends, tracking the total cases in the past day or the past week. A lot of our paid media was supporting COVID testing, so the entire time we were ebbing and flowing with what we were seeing with COVID outbreaks across the country. We got to a very tight forecasting model, where we could predict what the return would be for any marketing spend on COVID testing, all the way down to operational costs.
What you’re describing sounds like a bunch of doctors performing surgery on a patient, except they’re in a rocket ship going a thousand miles per hour.
Yes, we were reporting on performance daily, checking trends, and adjusting for the next day. There was a lot of data input that ultimately fueled our decision making.
So, in your opinion, is media a science or an art?
It’s a bit of both, I think. Everything we do is driven by data. The science is putting the pieces of the puzzle together: pairing audience data with the right tactics to reach them effectively, then testing and optimizing to understand what works best. You also have to consider how you want that audience to engage with the ad experience. What do you want them to think, feel, or do? And that’s the art form.
I want to ask you about AI. Many in our industry have called out that media planning and buying as a service performed by agencies will be threatened by this new technology.
Yeah, it’s interesting. AI in media has been around really since the rise in digital. All these platforms, for the most part, have been and still are using some form of predictive AI. They analyze thousands and thousands of pieces of data to return the best result based on the parameters you’ve set up. Now we’re seeing generative AI, which is being used to create content. Media platforms are using these two types of AI to give marketers a “one-stop shop” for campaigns. Just like predictive AI that’s been used for several years now within media tech, it seems generative AI is only as good as the input.
So maybe we have a few more years before the robots come for us.
Yes, I’d say the Terminator’s not due for a while.
Phew. Okay, let’s move on. What have been some of your proudest achievements here at Flynn?
It’s hard not to say the work we were doing for Quest during COVID. Outside of that, Athlete Studio comes to mind. They partner with athletes to sell unique athlete-designed merch and NFTs. We ran a campaign for them to help raise awareness for NFL athletes and drive e-commerce sales. Some of the athletes we featured included Justin Jefferson [wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings], Micah Parsons [linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys], and Terry McLaurin [wide receiver for the Washington Commanders], just to name a few. The campaign achieved over a 100% ROAS, and it was a ton of fun to work on.
So, let’s get serious here for a second. Your new title is Director of Integrated Media. What does this promotion mean for your role and how will your responsibilities evolve?
The key word there is integrated. In a smaller agency setting, you need more diversified skill sets and people that can work efficiently across the different areas of media. Plus, the way media is being purchased is changing, so identifying the right tools is key for success. In this new role, I’m looking forward to helping our team become more channel agnostic and evolve with the media landscape.
Talk to me about a trend you’ve observed in media that you think clients should pay attention to.
I’d say transparency in the TV space. With CTV spend increasing and audiences spending more time with the channel, advertisers want to know exactly what content they’re running in, just like traditional TV. Nielsen came out with Nielsen One last summer, but they still need to prove de-duplicated audiences across linear and streaming. Comscore and other competitors are developing their own solutions, too. It will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to this challenge.
Is there a channel that you feel is underutilized?
Believe it or not, direct mail. Is print dying? Absolutely, but I’ve seen a well-timed direct mail piece to the right audience work very well in the past. And I think out-of-home can be overlooked. The biggest thing in the news right now is the new Sphere in Vegas. Have you heard about that yet?
It sounds very on brand for Vegas.
It’s literally a huge sphere on the Vegas strip, like a large screen that they can put anything on. So over July fourth, they had digital fireworks going off all over the sphere. And so now, the big question is, will they let people advertise on it? Because it is Vegas. It’s a huge market.
I think the answer is yes, and Barbie has already done it.
That would not surprise me at all.
Last question, and I’m essentially obligated to ask at this point—did you see Barbie or Oppenheimer?
I haven’t seen either of them yet! I have a one-year-old who keeps me busy.
Well, I suppose we can forgive that. Congrats again on the new role, Zach.
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